In 1989, when the first stages of setting up a mine action program for Afghanistan were put into place, military trainers from many nations including the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and other countries established training grounds near Peshawar in Pakistan and commenced the training of the first few thousand deminers in what became known as “Operation Salaam.”
The initial concept was to train Afghans, to work as unpaid volunteers, to demine areas around their own villages.
It was believed that Afghans could be persuaded that minefield clearance was a continuation of the Holy War against the Russian invaders.
Many thousands of Afghan volunteers were trained, and received pay for their training, but the whole scheme fell flat when the “volunteer deminers” were sent back to their villages.
The idea of doing a dangerous job like demining, with no real medical or organizational back-up, little in the way of equipment, no salary and no insurance coverage, soon lost its appeal and it was not until a proper demining organization was established, with UN funding, that demining in Afghanistan really took off.
The organization was named Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) and it was founded by Colonel Kefayatullah Eblagh, an ex Afghan army officer.
The UN had approached Colonel Eblagh and asked for his advice on overcoming the problem of organizing mine clearance in Afghanistan.
His advice was to set up an organization based broadly on military lines, ensuring that the demining staff were paid a good salary, had a pension plan, were properly insured, properly led, supervised and equipped, and had proper medical back-up in case of accidents.
The U.N. heeded this advice and gave full financial support for such an organization to be set up, with Colonel Eblagh leading it. Thus ATC was born!
Immediately after its establishment, ATC implemented a pilot project of US$ 240,000 in Kunar Province Afghanistan and started demining operations in early 1990 with an initial staff of 35.
ATC proved itself as a demining organization by completing its first pilot project in an efficient, safe, and effective, manner.
Since then, the organization has evolved into a leading, humanitarian demining agency in the international community and the United Nations.
Afghan Technical Consultants is the oldest implementing partner of the United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA), and non-governmental organization (NGO) for humanitarian Mine/UXO clearance projects in Afghanistan. It was established in October 1989 by the present director Mr. Kefayatullah Eblagh, who implemented a pilot project of US$ 240,000 worth.
ATC started demining operations in early 1990 with an initial staff of 35. Since then, it has undergone significant changes and expansion.
ATC has developed into a highly organized and effective NGO employing more than 3000 personnel previously. But, shortage of funds affected ATC as it had to make tremendous reduction in capacity in 2006 and 2007 and currently, it has nearly 1500 personnel.
ATC’s policy on discipline and complete political neutrality in the community has been followed in order to foster friendly relationships with government authorities, regional and local leaderships. This helps to promote respect and appreciation for demining operations carried out by ATC and helps in smooth running and timely completion of our projects.
ATC since its establishment has developed itself into a highly disciplined non-governmental organization. Over the years it has gained immense experience. ATC manages its activities on modern lines and keeps accurate records of its financial matters to the satisfaction of donors.
ATC, with financial assistance from donors; directly or through the UN, is achieving its goals and is playing an important role in removing as many mines as possible.